What Napoli did to win 2 Italian leagues, an Italian cup and uefa cup driven on by Maradona is more than 7 games at a World Cup.
Messi is outstanding but so too is maradona, much harder challenges, literally, a corrupt Italian league, bad pitches, tougher defenders and a more physical game. Look at the footage of Maradona’s famous free kick against Juventus where the bent referee lets a few terrible tackles go before he has to give the free kick. Unbelievable free kick as well.
Messi played in a world class side in a 2 team league with a career of champions league group games each year which is shooting practice for the elite clubs.
Having said that whenever anyone challenge Dixie’s 60 due to the amount of goals scored back then I always challenge back, “why didn’t anyone else do it then?”. That’s a similar argument for Messi, however he also has a player in a similar bracket and similar level to him with the same benefits of playing for a long time at one of the best clubs in the world scoring for fun against the rest.
Maradona for me (through rose tinted specs), I think Messi is very close and head and shoulders above Ronaldo, a wonderful player, who like Maradona takes your breath away and isn’t just about the stats.
But I don't think Maradona or Pele have had anywhere near the club career and accomplishments that Messi had. Take away the World Cup 86 (games) and would people be arguing that Maradona was the best in the world? I don't think so. That achievement and how he did it was truly remarkable, but it was 7 games. Messi has played at an unbelievable level for hundreds of games. It hasn't happened for him at international level but he's still had a good career with Argentina and won the golden ball at the 2014 world cup.
As for Pele he stayed in Brazil and in 18 seasons and won 6 titles. Messi won ten titles in 17 seasons in Barca. And if your argument is Santos weren't as strong as team as Barcelona, then Brazil at the time of Pele were vastly stronger than Argentina at the time of Messi.
But obviously all three players are gods of the game and there will never be a way to definitively rank them so it just comes down to opinions.
and definitely Tony Hibbert.